Right “In The Main”

October 17, 2012 13:00 pm

by Charlie · 11 comments

Today’s Courier Herald Column:

Tuesday night featured the 3rd debate, but the second of the largely inconsequential, entertainment for the partisan bases debates.  Vice Presidential debates are purely for sport.  Barring a horrible flub, the VP debate usually accomplishes the art of doing something that would be less than presidential if attempted by the candidates on the top of the ticket.

In a format where the presidential candidates have three debates, the middle debate is sandwiched in between two that have the opportunity to matter.  There’s “first impression” debate where candidates share a stage and voters are able to make direct compare and contrast observations.  Romney used that opportunity in Denver to maximum advantage, taking a race many had written off and moving the polls to a dead heat.

Still to come is a final debate where each candidate essentially makes a closing argument to the country.  This debate has great potential to matter given the current fluid nature of the race.

Tuesday’s middle debate didn’t have the clear winner that the Denver debate did, but for the sake of argument the edge should be given to the President.  Based on his earlier performance, showing up and providing somewhat coherent responses to Mitt Romney would almost have to be judged as a win.  Democrats seemed much more pleased Tuesday evening, which is in itself a victory for the President’s campaign.  The circular firing squad forming within his own team’s ranks can holster their weapons for the time being.

If there will be a lasting memory from the performance, however, it will be the exchange on Libya.  It came near the end of the 90 minutes and featured Romney challenging the President on his refusal for weeks to call the assassination of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others an act of terror.  The President challenged Romney on the assertion, and moderator Candy Crowley inexplicably jumped into the middle of the exchange to assert that the President’s version was correct.

An hour later when recapping the debate with other CNN pundits, Crowley revised and extended her remarks, noting that Mitt Romney was correct “in the main” but he just “chose the wrong word.”  Unfortunately, 50-60 million people weren’t watching CNN an hour after her gaffe.

The final debate will be on foreign policy however, and there is no doubt that the situation in Libya and the President’s handling of the situation will be addressed again.  As with so many issues that turn into scandal, the questions for voters at this time are not as much about placing blame as they are for the evolving stories that the White House and State Department have issued over the events.

At some point, hopefully, the President will be asked directly and succinctly to explain why he and his administration continued to blame a filmmaker and a YouTube video for the terrorist actions of Al Qaeda.  Two weeks after the attack, the President continued to blame the video in a speech to the United Nations, essentially blaming an American citizen for the assignation of four Americans on a world stage.

Crowley’s interjection helped seal the night for the President on a night when instant polls conducted by her own network gave a win to Romney on issues of the economy, health care, taxes, and the deficit.  Regardless, few will decide their vote on Wednesday’s performance.

There are, however, three more weeks to expound upon the difference between being right “in the main” and having a proper response to the American people when our country is attacked.  There remains three weeks to inspect our response to the rest of the world as well.

We’ve been telling ourselves since this campaign began that “it’s the economy, stupid” is the issue of that will decide things.  Yet the closing arguments will be based on foreign policy.  And then voters will get to decide who is right for the country, without journalists butting in to pronounce they are wrong but right “in the main”.

wicker October 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm

“There are, however, three more weeks to expound upon the difference between being right “in the main” and having a proper response to the American people when our country is attacked.”

So long as that exposition includes the difference between “just words” (to borrow Hillary Clinton’s derisive statement against Obama that backfired badly) and the disastrous actions of deciding to invade and occupy Afghanistan and Iraq. It is amazing that the very people who are the angriest at Obama taking two weeks to call what happened in Libya terrorism (and for the longest tried their best to purposefully confuse Obama’s response to what happened in EGYPT with what happened in LIBYA) pretty much shrug at the decision to spend over 10 years, trillions of dollars, and oh yes thousands of lives … the decision which cost the GOP control of Congress in 2006 and the White House in 2008. That is a debate that Obama is very willing to have for the next 3 weeks, because such a debate will result in his re-election. If Romney wants to serve up red meat for the base, he can keep going after Obama for lacking the posture of Bush and Reagan on the Middle East (when everyone knows that Bush, Bush and Reagan all failed on the Middle East also, and Bush II in particular was a massive failure). But if he actually wants to win, he needs to stick to the economy, health care, taxes, and the deficit.

And incidentally, when Obama said “”Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe,” he said. “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.”” on September 12, 2012, what do YOU regard to be the context of the remarks? Pan Am Flight 103? The Munich Massacre of 1972? Or just, you know, acts of terror in general with no specific context or reference whatsoever?

mpierce October 17, 2012 at 2:09 pm

on September 12, 2012, what do YOU regard to be the context of the remarks

Context:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/watercooler/2012/oct/11/picket-video-carneys-smooth-double-speak-benghazi/

Three Jack October 17, 2012 at 2:25 pm

wicker,

In that same speech on 9/12, the president began his remarks (after the normal show of remorse for the fallen and assurance that we will catch the ‘killers’) by saying, “Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None. The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts.”

So he begins his remarks by blaming the video. Mitt was right to challenge Obama, but he failed miserably by not asking the president directly, ‘if you thought it was a terrorist attack on 9/12, then why was administration representative Susan Rice still blaming the video 4 days later while appearing on 5 separate Sunday morning talk shows?’

seenbetrdayz October 17, 2012 at 5:56 pm

I believe you are right on the foreign policy debate turning things back in Obama’s favor. It almost sucks for Republicans that the final debate would have to be on that topic, because it’s almost impossible for Mitt Romney to talk about the Middle East without independent voters thinking back not-so-fondly on the Bush years. Romney got a boost from the first debate, but quickly stemmed it by saber-rattling over a sh*tstorm in Syria where we have no idea what’s going on. The safest thing to do is not to send our troops over there and wait for someone to start shooting at them, to find out which side we’re going to take. I don’t think independent voters are going to go for that, but the GOP is going full-steam ahead with the nation-building nonsense.

If I were Romney I’d call out sick on that debate.

seenbetrdayz October 17, 2012 at 5:59 pm

And Iran. We’re going to look for nuclear weapons . . . again.

What really sucks for voters like me is that I’m asked to choose between a guy who will destroy the U.S. economy in 4 more years through increased entitlement programs, or a guy who will destroy the U.S. economy due to increased military spending.

It’s apparently neck-and-neck at this point.

Calypso October 17, 2012 at 6:02 pm

“What really sucks for voters like me is that I’m asked to choose between a guy who will destroy the U.S. economy in 4 more years through increased entitlement programs, or a guy who will destroy the U.S. economy due to increased military spending.”

Keep in mind that one of those scenarios can easily and quickly be halted, while the other will become an entrenched way of life for millions and virtually impossible to ever undo. That should make your decision rather obvious.

seenbetrdayz October 17, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Eh, still not obvious.

We’ve been in Afghanistan for 11+ years. We’ve been in the Middle East for half of my life, counting Op. Desert Storm. Casualties are kind of hard to ‘undo.’

I guess I wasn’t clear that it’s not just the military spending itself that’s a problem, it’s the costly commitments we make overseas getting involved in fights against the enemy of our enemy (of our enemies).

For the foreign policy debate, Mitt is going to have to work really hard to distance himself from the Bush years, and he sort of flubbed that question in the debate last night, when some lady asked him how he would differentiate himself from Bush. No one wants to go back to the George Bush years and I don’t know if Republicans are going to realize that until its too late.

And it sucks, because the GOP’s rhetoric is way better when it comes to the economy (well, except for the 08′ bailouts—let’s just call that an $800 billion fluke, and I do give Republicans credit for at least realizing it was a mistake while a Republican was still in the White House—such self-reflection is rare in a political party).

gcp October 17, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Crowley was not much a moderator. The Presidential Debate Committee should have selected the questions, not Crowley. With the exception of the obligatory Libya question and the “I am not better off” question toward the end of the debate, there were few audience questions critical of Obama.
The upcoming foreign policy debate should be interesting. Obama will have to defend his continued Afghanistan mess and the Libya fiasco. Romney is no better as he has no policy on Afghanistan.

kyleinatl October 17, 2012 at 4:08 pm

The President wins via TKO for sure. I don’t agree with much of the “level playing field” language he’s utilizing, but at the very least, he’s presenting tangible ideas (whether workable or not)…Romney continues to basically say “I’m for jobs!!” without elaborating much. I’m sure there really are independent voters out there who want a reason to vote for Romney, but he’s not giving it to them.

Bloodhound October 17, 2012 at 4:29 pm

The President may have worked to a draw on stage. I could see how some could give him a slight edge in points, again, at the time and on the stage.

However, in the clearer light and aftermath the chatter is about the Presidents lies, fabrications, revisionism, and twists.

I’ve heard very little about Romney’s mis-steps.

I think after the spin and fog have cleared Romney will be judged to have defeated the tag team of Obama/Crowley.

Max Power October 18, 2012 at 8:43 am

Charlie’s column today demonstrates everything that’s currently wrong with American politics. We parse words and events to create our own realities to paint people we disagree with in a bad light.

[i]An hour later when recapping the debate with other CNN pundits, Crowley revised and extended her remarks, noting that Mitt Romney was correct “in the main” but he just “chose the wrong word.” Unfortunately, 50-60 million people weren’t watching CNN an hour after her gaffe.
[/i]

It wasn’t a gaffe it was a correct statement of facts. The issue was over the phrase act of terror. The President speaking about the attacks used that term, Romney thought he had caught the President in a lie and pushed the matter and Crowley correctly noted that the President had used that term.

It makes me sad that this is the state of American politics and who is to blame? We are, we keep sending the same people to Washington, people more interested in their own power and careers than moving the country forward, it’s all very depressing. Back when I was a teenager in the 80s I swore that when my generation came to power we would run the country better only we haven’t we’re in fact much worse. I try to be an optimistic guy but quite frankly every election I get more and more depressed about the future of my state, my country, and my world.

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